Chain Review: Uno Chicago Grill’s BBQ Chicken Pizza

A few weeks ago we told you about a new and somewhat divisive Maryland pizzeria called Coal Fire.  Not only did our review generate a veritable science lesson in pizza making (thanks to some great comments by The Pizza Blogger), but it kick-started a craving in my gut for more of one of America’s most beloved foods.  Wanting to try something accessible to everyone across the country, I ditched the local scene and instead recently headed to the chain restaurant Uno’s Chicago Grill.

"Around" Where? Like a block radius? 40 miles? Planet Earth?

"Around" Where? Like a block radius? 40 miles? Planet Earth?

Uno’s Chicago Grill is based on the design model of the famous Pizzeria Uno, which helped to popularize “Chicago Style” deep dish pizza in the 1940s.  What we know today as Uno’s Chicago Grill actually began in 1978 when developer Aaron Spencer expanded the concept into a chain of restaurants, opening the first of his non-Chicago based Uno’s in Boston.  Today, Uno Restaurant Holdings operate some 200 locations nationwide, and prides itself on an expanded menu that features everything from deep dish pizza to burgers to chops.

While it’s tough to pass up trying a deep dish pizza at a chain which specializes in the regional favorite, I instead chose to go with Uno’s BBQ Chicken Flatbread Pizza.  As you may have caught on in my Coal Fire post, I’m much more a fan of crispy and thin crust pizzas variants, and the description on the Uno’s menu was just too much to resist:

Sliced chicken breast, mozzarella, red onion and parsley drizzled with citrus BBQ.

Not only that, but because I bought the pizza online and picked it up “curbside,” my two BBQ Chicken pizzas actually came out to a cool $7.50 apiece, which is comparatively lower than what my former employer offers for their industrially produced BBQ Chicken Pizzas.

The lack of green on this pizza saddens me. Veggies+Chicken+BBQ= Winner

The lack of green on this pizza saddens me. Veggies+Chicken+BBQ= Winner

That being said, I was not totally impressed.  As you can see from the above photo, this is more or less a menu item which you can eat entirely on your own.  As you can also see, there was absolutely no evidence whatsoever of parsley.  Now I may not be an herb-junkie, but I certainly do appreciate proper seasoning, especially given the obvious constraints of cooking a pizza at a chain restaurant and in a regular old oven.  Likewise, I found the BBQ sauce to be inconsistently applied, with the end pieces having virtually no sauce to speak of.

Looking for parsley on this pizza was like looking for Where's Waldo in the Bible.

Looking for parsley on this pizza was like looking for Where's Waldo in the Bible.

Which leads us to the crust.  Thin, overloaded, and somewhat soggy, the crust on this pizza was not a crust at all; it was a moderately cooked pile of dough.  Likewise, the mozzarella cheese did not seem cooked through all the way, and was somewhat rubbery and dull.  Amazingly, it was still overly greasy but it lacked any compelling flavor (think of it like your high school’s daily pizza offering.)  I also found there to be too much cheese, which overpowered what little red onion was featured on the pizza.  The chicken was decent but only decent, and did not display the taste of a classic BBQ rub or seasoning.  It also came across as burnt.

The only highlight of this pizza was the sauce. Unlike most chains which use some generic and HFCS-laden BBQ sauce, the sauce on this pizza had strong and complex citrus flavors, and actually reminded me of the orange marmalade I had on my toast for breakfast that morning.  It was exceptionally sweet and displayed a glaze-like quality which may not be for everyone, but I found it an interesting play on a familiar concept.

Money Shot

Money Shot

In my opinion, a good BBQ Chicken Pizza should be about three things; Smoke, Sweetness, and Snap. (Want to see what Ryan looks for in a good BBQ Chicken Pizza?  Click Here)  Obviously there was no smoke involved because of the cooking method employed, and unfortunately there was no snap to the otherwise bland and overloaded crust.  Still, this pizza was saved enough by the complexity of the peachy/citrus BBQ sauce, and considering its value was a decent investment given the circumstance.

Pros: Complex and Original BBQ sauce concept for a BBQ chicken pizza. Reasonable price if bought online as part of the special deal. You could probably do worse for the 1000 calories or so it cost me.

Cons: Mediocre ingredients and bland. Not seasoned very well and missing herb component that it was advertised as having. Not enough red onion. Crust seemed overloaded with ingredients, and slightly soggy with no trademark "crisp" or "snap" that you'd expect from a flatbread.

Taste: 5.25/10
Value: 7.00/10
Grubbing on-the-go: 7.50/10
Price: $15.00 for Two Pizzas ('Double Deals' Takeout Special)

Overall GrubGrade: 5.50/10

More Info: Unos.com
Nutrition Facts:
unosnutr

13 comments on “Chain Review: Uno Chicago Grill’s BBQ Chicken Pizza

  1. Ryan says:

    Agree! Uno changed up their thin crust pizzas and started calling them “flatbreads” a couple years or so back. Gotta keep up with the trends. The previous version was actually pretty decent…I’m not a huge fan of deep dish and I used to get the thin crust BBQ Chkn pizza often. Once they changed to “flatbreads” I too noticed how sparse they became. They slice it up and some pieces at the end are almost completely bare…just crust.

  2. Man that sucks, I hate when people get a bad pie…it actually gets me down 🙂 No one should have to put up with that.

    We’ve got the most amazing BBQ Chicken with awesome sauce, chicken (of course), red onions, Gouda, green onions and cilantro…it’s heaven. I”ll replace your Uno’s one for free if you can get out here 🙂

  3. john says:

    thats too bad i always get the bbq chic flatbread pizza here and love it…maybe you just got a bad one? Im not sure, but this is my go to menu item here

  4. Adam says:

    Bear,
    That is what I think of when I think of BBQ chicken. Green onions are the perfect compliment for red onions, while the gouda gives the pizza that hint of smoke that’s just freaking awsome. I am back and forth on cilantro (used to hate it but it is growing on me) but in this application I think a little is good. One way or the other, the pizza needs some herbage.

  5. Adam says:

    Whoops, meant green peppers. Green onions aint bad either, though.

  6. Adam says:

    I agree. Their pizzas used to be much better. I think it may depend on location too. Their Union Station location has been my go to place in the past, but this time I got take out in EC, Maryland.

  7. rob says:

    I’m pretty tired of the entire flatbread craze

  8. Raiders757 says:

    I’ve mentioned it before, that I ma not a big fan of BBQ sauce on pizza, but Bear is onto something with his. Red Onions, Gouda, Green Onions and Cilantro? Oh yea, there is no way I could turn that down. Gouda is “the bomb” and I have never thought about how well it would probably go with BBQ Chicken. Add cilantro, green onion, and red onions? Oh, man! That’s a taste sensation.

    UNO’s, on the other hand, gives Chicago a bad name. I don’t know what it is, but I never leave that place impressed. hence why I haven’t been to one in years. Once the bread bowls for their soup were aced, my wife refuses to go, and she was the only reason I would go.

  9. Raider757 – Even you would like mine….it’s incredible (I stay humble :P)

  10. ultradave says:

    That Uno’s pizza looks pathetic. They should be ashamed.

    On a good note, I go to Sunnyvale, CA next week so I get to go try Bear’s pizza place Thursday. Woo!

  11. Bear Silber says:

    Ultradave – Awesome!!!! Let me know when you’re going to stop in.

  12. […] serves up flatbread pizzas, I was hoping Uno Chicago Grill had better offerings to offer than the last BBQ Chicken Pizza I ordered.I know a lot of people have mixed feelings about Uno Chicago Grill. Their take on […]

  13. Mike says:

    My secret chef’s choice pizza is some what similar. Tastes awesome.